Apprentices mean business
Firms offering apprenticeships should be favoured over those that do not when bidding for millions of pounds' worth of council business, says the city's deputy mayor.
Rory Palmer said a larger slice of Leicester City Council's £350 million annual spending should go to companies committed to training young people.
Coun Palmer said he would look to push more public cash towards firms which take on apprentices, after Labour leader Ed Miliband's speech to the party conference.
Mr Miliband said that if Labour won the next General Election he would make it mandatory for public sector procurement contracts to go to such firms.
This voucher entitles you to 25% of any of our Nottingham Photography Courses:
One Day intro to DSLR Photography
Portrait and Studio
Evening City Photography
Terms: You can only use the one voucher per course. You cannot use this voucher in conjunction with any other offer.
Contact: 01159 078634
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
Coun Palmer said: "I think that is a great policy and we are already working towards it in Leicester.
"I think companies have a social responsibility to train up the next generation of workers.
"With youth unemployment so high, this is something councils could and should be pushing.
"We are already doing work to make sure more of our spend goes to local companies, and the next logical step is to try to encourage firms which want that business to have apprentices, particularly when we are procuring large amounts from big companies.
"There are some hoops to jump through, because there are European laws that affect our procurement process, but a local authority ought to be able to make the promotion of apprenticeships a key consideration when awarding contracts.
"I can't say that within six month all our contracts will go to firms with apprentices but I hope it's something we can do within the current legal framework."
Mr Miliband's critics said finding the best deal for tax-payers should be the top consideration when spending public money.
Coun Palmer said: "We have to balance the social considerations with the need to make the public pound go further, but I think good companies will have apprenticeships or will be looking to bring them in."
The city council was unable to say how many of the 7,000 firms it has procurement contracts with already employed apprentices.
Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership board member Dennis Kent said he welcomed the idea in principle, but was not sure it would work in practice.
He said: "It's a great idea and I am in favour of promoting apprenticeships but I'm not sure the public sector could get all the vast array of items it needs from companies with apprenticeships.
"As valuable as public sector contracts are, I can also see bosses just saying it's not worth it."
Should the council direct its cash towards firms that take on apprentices? Have your say at: